A MEMBER of the Letran coaching staff admitted head mentor Aldin Ayo’s absence was a big void the Knights found difficult to fill in as they went down to their first loss of NCAA Season 91 against lowly Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Assistant coach Louie Gonzales said the Knights were never the same without Ayo, who served a one-game suspension after he threw a chair at the passage way leading to the dugout during the Knights’ game against Lyceum last Tuesday.
“Namiss natin si coach Aldin,” said Gonzales to Spin.ph.
Gonzales said Ayo is the biggest reason why Letran went 7-0 to start the season owing to his ability to get the best out of his players.
“‘Yun kasing presence niya in itself, kaya nagiging extraordinary ‘yung team na ‘to, malaking factor ‘yung nandoon siya. ‘Yung puso namin, lumaki. Sumipag sila dahil kay coach Aldin,” said Gonzales.
“Nandoon naman ‘yung system pero ‘yung extra kick (wala) eh,” he added.
Kevin Racal and Mark Cruz had 18 and 16 points each to lead Letran, but those were not enough to prevent the team from absorbing an 83-69 loss in what is the biggest upset thus far in the season.
The Generals won their second straight game after losing their first five matches.
Still, Gonzales said the loss should be a learning experience for the Knights to always be ready under any circumstances.
“We can’t play like that. Flat na flat kami. Nandoon ‘yung spark pero hindi namin napahaba ‘yung streak namin,” said Gonzales, while citing the combined three two-point field goal conversions of Rey Nambatac and Jomari Sollano.
“Off sila. Kailangan din namin sila,” said Gonzales.
The defeat had the Knights giving up the chance of sweeping the first round of the eliminations, although achieving it was the farthest thing from their minds, according to Gonzales
“We never thought naman na magagawa namin ‘yung 9-0. Sa amin, since ‘yung unang beses na nanalo kami, ang iniisip lang namin kasi mag-trabaho, mag-effort at magtulungan. Hindi namin napag-isipan ‘yung sweep,” said Gonzales.